Can You Play Competitive CSGO Without Prime?

If you have started playing CSGO recently, you might have come across the term CSGO Prime. Your friend might have told you that you need it to play Competitive CSGO. But is that even true? Wasn’t CSGO a free-to-play game?

The short answer to that question is no. You can not play Competitive CSGO without Prime. If you want to play Competitive CSGO and start ranked matchmaking, you need to purchase prime. Here is an in-depth explanation of that.

What is CSGO Prime?

Ever wanted to be a part of a VIP club? If you have CSGO Prime, you are a part of the CSGO Prime club. But what exactly is CSGO Prime?

There are two versions of CSGO. There is a free-to-play version and the other being CSGO Prime. Some people might think that CSGO Prime is a completely different game, but both are actually the same games.

When players create a new account and start playing CSGO for free, they don’t get access to all the features. CSGO Prime is a status that a player can acquire, which will unlock all those game features.

What is Competitive CSGO?

Competitive is the flagship game mode for CSGO. It is also the main game mode that makes CSGO what it is. When a CSGO player starts the Competitive game mode, they get placed in a match where their gameplay is analyzed. After several matches, the game issues a Competitive Skill Group to them.

The Competitive Skill Groups are made up of ranks starting from Silver 1 to Global Elite. These Ranks describe how skilled you are. If you start performing better in Competitive matches, you get a higher Competitive Skill Group and move up the Ranks.

Can I Play Competitive CSGO Without Getting CSGO Prime?

As we have mentioned, CSGO Prime and the free-to-play version of CSGO are basically the same games. There are no gameplay differences, and you don’t have to download separate game files for CSGO Prime. The only difference is that you can’t access certain features without Prime.

One of the features blocked behind the Prime Status is the Competitive Skill Groups. So, the answer to the question is no. Sadly, you can’t play the Competitive game mode of CSGO without getting CSGO Prime. You can play other game modes like casual.

Official Stance of Valve on the Situation

According to the official Steam Support thread for CS: GO – Prime Status and Free to Play, players that don’t have the Prime Status will not have access to Ranked Matchmaking. The thread also states that players without the Prime Status will not get issued a Competitive Skill Group.

When CSGO became free to play, Ranked Matchmaking was completely free for everyone. Players had to play a certain number of Casual matches to unlock it.

However, because of the influx of cheaters and hackers creating new accounts whenever they got banned, CSGO had to remove the Ranked Matchmaking feature from free-to-play and lock it behind the Prime Status.

How to Get CSGO Prime

The only way that you can currently get Prime Status on a free-to-play CSGO account is by purchasing it. You can purchase the Prime Status in-game. Or you can also get it from the Steam Store.

Regardless of where you buy it from, you will be paying an amount of $14.99 for it. However, for players who purchased the game before it became free-to-play, their accounts will have Prime Status enabled.


You can not play Competitive CSGO, get a Competitive Skill Group, or be able to get into Ranked Matchmaking without getting CSGO Prime. If you want to play Competitive CSGO, you need to purchase the CSGO Prime Status for $14.99.

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